About ACL Repair
An ACL tear is one of the most common knee injuries, especially among people who participate in high-impact sports. ACL reconstructive surgery is done to repair a torn ACL and regain stability and movement in the knee. While not all cases of a torn ligament require surgery, very active people or those in persistent pain may opt for surgery.
You’ll be prepped for the surgery by changing into a hospital gown and having an intravenous (IV) line placed in your arm. The IV will allow the surgical team to administer medications, anesthesia, or sedatives.
During surgery, a small incision is made in the front of the knee for an arthroscope — a thin tube outfitted with a fiber optic camera and surgical tools. This allows your surgeon to see inside your knee during the procedure.
The surgeon will first remove your torn ACL and clean the area. They will then drill small holes into your tibia and femur so the bone plugs can be attached with posts, screws, staples, or washers.
Following the attachment of the new ligament, the surgeon will test your knee’s range of motion and tension to ensure the graft is secure. Finally, the opening will be stitched, the wound dressed, and your knee will be stabilized with a brace. The length of the surgery will vary depending on the experience of the surgeon and if additional procedures are performed (such as, meniscal repair), among other factors.
Typically, you can go home the day of your surgery.
After the procedure
You’ll be taken to a recovery room for one to two hours. Medications prescribed by your doctor should help control pain. Rehabilitation is key to the success of ACL reconstruction.
Immediately after surgery, you’ll be advised to take pain medications, keep your incision clean and dry, and rest. Icing your knee is extremely important as it helps alleviate pain and decreases swelling.
Here’s what to expect following ACL surgery:
- some pain
- restricted activity for several months
- walking with crutches for up to six weeks
- wearing a knee brace for at least one week
You can expect to regain range of motion in your knee within a few weeks after surgery. Athletes typically return to their sports within six to 12 months.
Recommended stay is 12 days.